DNA – putting the fun back in dysfunction.

I wrote a few weeks about investigating my ancestry. Since then I’ve garnered some unexpected and interesting circumstances to consider. IMG_0097

In the past two weeks I learned that I have a very close familial DNA connection with someone I never knew existed.

I don’t really understand DNA jargon and numbers and probabilities. I decided I must pay dues and join an ancestry community in order to learn as rapidly as possible. It’s slow going. There’s much to learn and it requires untold hours of my time. I know that DNA is a scientific study and I have great respect for science. It seems to me, though, there are an awful lot of variables. I don’t yet have a grasp of what’s for sure and what’s iffy (for lack of a better term). I think I need help – a tutor maybe?

Here’s the deal – I have a match so close that she almost certainly has to be my sister or my niece. The match is on the paternal side of the family. I imagine you see where I’m going with this. I have one brother (deceased) and a father (deceased). I obviously cannot ask either of them the defining question. The birth mother is not known. Well, she is known by someone. The information is in a sealed record in Raleigh, our state capital. Closed adoptions were common (maybe even the law?) in the 1960s.

It seems unconscionable that my new relative cannot get access to this information. I  suppose the biological mother would have to give consent if she’s still alive. All other parents and possible parents are deceased, including the adoptive parents. My sister/niece is not asking, nor is she expecting, anything from her biological family. She wants to know that she has roots. It’s not too much to ask.

I haven’t met her yet except by telephone, text, and Facebook. She looks like us. She’s seems nice and kind. She’s intelligent. The rest of the family would probably be drawn to her if we were at party. She has a sense of humor – that runs in the family. She has our wide grin. I’ve told her about some of our quirks and familial dysfunction. It didn’t scare her.

We could use you, S, to help put a little fun in our dysfunction. We’re looking forward to meeting you in person.


Nosy Nelly.

photo-38I used to read “Dear Abby” in my daily newspaper. One issue that came up frequently was “How do I answer when a friend or acquaintance asks me a personal question that I don’t wish to answer?”

Abby had a number of possible replies – Why would you ask me that? Why do you want to know? That’s personal. – Or sometimes, when Nosy Nelly is persistent, That’s really none of your business. Or perhaps a gentler version would be Let’s not go there.

Unfortunately, when Nosy Nelly is being her most inquisitive self, there is no gentle version that will deter her. She goes into a rapid-fire mode and makes numerous inappropriate inquiries, causing me to want to throw something at her, like maybe a serious reprimand about how damn nosy she is and how she needs to get a life.

Here’s the thing – the other side of Nelly is a kind, gentle, caring woman who goes out of her way to do for others. She doesn’t call attention to her acts of kindness. I truly believe she would take the shirt off her back and hand to a friend (or a stranger) if she thought they needed it.

The last paragraph doesn’t solve the problem of Nelly’s inquisitiveness, but it makes me pause and reevaluate my relationship with her. I don’t want to hurt her feelings. Neither do I want to spend a lot of time with her. Somewhere there’s a happier balance. I’ll keep pondering.